He was beaten and knew it

Watching voters' love affair with William Donald Schaefer end

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September 17, 2006|By Amy Davis | Amy Davis,Sun Staff

Reporter Jill Rosen and I were stationed outside William Donald Schaefer's polling place in Fells Point well before 7 a.m., waiting with TV crews for his arrival when the polls opened. An hour and a half later, there was still no sign of one of Baltimore's most familiar politicians. We knew something was wrong. The obligatory early morning photo ops of candidates casting their vote are one of the few times you can be sure a politician will show up on time.

Then we got word that Schaefer was at Iggy's restaurant in Little Italy for breakfast with his long-time friends and political allies. We rushed over there, and Jill waited outside for comments while I slipped onto a stool at the counter, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible, after introducing myself to the gathering. I knew this could be Schaefer's last election, and that this might be our only chance to get his photograph, considering his almost invisible campaign for re-election as comptroller.

I was accustomed to Schaefer's bouts of grumpiness, leavened only by his occasional funny faces, but this morning the gloom was different. This breakfast was a wake. The former city councilman, mayor, and governor knew that he was beaten, and the loyal friends who showed up this morning knew it, too, as they consoled him between attempts at upbeat election day chatter.

The day after his loss in the primary, Schaefer reflected that what he'd like to be remembered for was that "He cared." It seemed to me that just as important to Schaefer was how much he was loved by the public. At breakfast on the day of the primary election, over a plate of two eggs over easy and Italian sausage, the stormy love affair was over.

A portfolio of photos by Davis of Schaefer in Iggy's that morning can be seen at baltimoresun.com.

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